Wednesday 20 March 2019

Asensio gives Madrid Real advantage

Real midfielder Marco Asensio, centre, scores his side's second goal. Picture: AP
Real midfielder Marco Asensio, centre, scores his side's second goal. Picture: AP

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio were on target as Real Madrid secured a 2-1 win over Ajax in the Champions League last-16 first leg in Amsterdam.

But the reigning champions, seeking a fourth straight title, were given a major scare by the only team left in the competition who had to come through qualifying.

Ajax, in the knockout stages for the first time in 13 years, dominated for long spells and they thought they had taken a deserved lead when, from the corner, Thibaut Courtois made a mess of claiming a header and Nicolas Tagliafico nodded in the rebound.

However, a lengthy VAR review eventually ruled out the goal with Dusan Tadic, marginally offside, standing in front of the Real keeper as the ball looped in.

Ajax's Hakim Ziyech celebrates after scorine his side's goal REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay
Ajax's Hakim Ziyech celebrates after scorine his side's goal REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

Early in the second half Karim Benzema tested André Onana with a low shot on the turn, but just before the hour mark the French striker made the breakthrough with his 60th Champions League goal on his 450th Real appearance.

Vinicius chased a ball over the top down the wing and cut inside before finding Benzema, who sent an unerring finish high into the net.

Ajax were not finished, though, and with 15 minutes left they sliced Real open again with Ziyech converting a low cross from David Neres. However, Asensio converted the winner when he met a stunning delivery from Dani Carvajal at the far post.

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